Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Aboard

We’re gonna need more than just a clown car; maybe a Klown Bus.

This time, Donald J. Trump says, he really means it.

The billionaire real-estate mogul, who has long amounted to a one-man sideshow in GOP presidential politics, said in an interview Wednesday that he is “more serious” than ever about pursuing a run for the White House in 2016.

In recent days, Trump said, he has hired staffers in key primary states, retained an election attorney and delayed signing on for another season as host of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” because of his political projects.

“Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble.”

But wait, don’t order yet; there’s more.

Todd Akin is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2016.

“I have not ruled anything out,” the former congressman and 2012 GOP Senate nominee told The Hill in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“I think there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have to some degree been pushed out of the Republican Party,” he continued. “The sentiment is there. The Tea Party is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.”

Akin’s reemergence is sure to be an unwelcome development for national Republicans.

During his 2012 race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the Republican triggered a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and fellow Republicans for saying that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape” during a discussion about why abortion should be illegal in all cases, even rape and incest.

When Akin refused to back down, the GOP essentially abandoned him in the once-winnable race, and his gaffes hurt the party across the board.

Yay, popcorn for everyone!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Scare Tactic

Scott Walker thinks that his reputation for destroying public-sector labor unions will frighten people.

…Walker argued that when Reagan fired the PATCO air-traffic controllers over their illegal strike, he was sending a message of toughness to Democrats and unions at home as well as our Soviet enemies abroad. Similarly, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

In a way, he’s right.  That kind of thinking is already scaring the crap out of me.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Mad Libs Test

If you are planning to run for president, Congress, or city council and someone asks you “Do you think [person] is a [noun]” where that noun is regarding the person’s faith, patriotism, or citizenship and your answer is anything but “That’s a really stupid question,” then you had better reconsider running for office.  Any other response reveals more about your character flaws than those of the person you’re asked about.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting The Band Back Together

Jeb Bush told his audience in Chicago that “I am my own man” in his attempt to distance his foreign policy from the previous versions of Bush in the White House.  Oh really?

If Bush’s goal is to present himself as his “own man,” that list of advisers undermines the point somewhat: 19 of the 21 people on it worked in the administrations of his father or brother. We’ve identified the roles each played in the past three Republican administrations, divvying them up as needed in the following Venn diagram.

Jeb Bush Ven Diagram 02-19-15.

On the whole, I’d rather they’d be playing at The Hague.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Measuring By Degrees

In the unlikely event that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker becomes the Republican nominee, the question will arise as to whether or not he should be disqualified from being president because he does not have a college degree.

The argument being made by his defenders is that not everyone in America can go to college and a lot of successful people have made it to the top without a degree.  Also, it’s snobbery to say that only people who can get in to college and complete the coursework are worthy of being the most powerful person in the world.

Those are valid points, and to some degree — no pun intended — I agree with them.  I know a lot of very smart people who don’t have college degrees, and I know that having one is no guarantee of brilliance; I can think of at least one recent example where we’ve had a president with two college degrees who did not strike me as being someone who put that education to good use.  As I noted elsewhere, wisdom is not measured by degrees.

On the other hand, I doubt that there are too many people today who would trust their health to a doctor who didn’t go to med school, and you can’t be a lawyer without a degree from law school.  In some states you can’t even get a license to be a physical therapist without an advanced degree.  So there are some occupations where dropping out of college for whatever reason is a hindrance, and for good reason.

But college is not just for the coursework or the degree.  It is, for most people, their first exposure to the larger world.  It is the first time they are on their own to make the choices that will shape their lives without parental or school board guidance, and what they choose to do with the opportunities presented tells us about what kind of adult they will be.  For the first time in their life, a college student is faced with making decisions that will determine a good deal of where they will go for the next fifty or so years and how they will touch the lives of the people around them.

It also provides them with a broad base of experience and insight about themselves and the world they face.  This happens not just at Yale or the University of Colorado but at every institution of higher learning, including the community college or trade school.  The classes are the tools; the interaction and the responsibilities assumed are the real lessons, and I would prefer to have a president who has proved to both himself and at least one board of regents he’s learned them.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Punting On The Thames

Presumed presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) went to London to join the Order of the Gaffe, following in the footsteps of Chris Christie and Mitt Romney, and did a right jolly bang-up of it.

Scott Walker, asked in London if he’s comfortable w/ the idea of evolution: “I’m going to punt on that one.”

The British press was mystified; they didn’t see any boating on the schedule.

Punting 02-12-15

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reply All

If any of my fellow Floridians wrote an e-mail to Jeb Bush during his tenure as governor of the state, the whole world now knows it.

Jeb Bush, a rumored 2016 Republican presidential candidate, just decided to publish hundreds of thousands of emails sent to him during his time as governor of Florida. On its face it seems like a great idea in the name of transparency, but there’s one huge problem: neither Bush nor those who facilitated the publication of the records, including the state government, decided to redact potentially sensitive personal information from them.

“In the spirit of transparency, I am posting the emails of my governorship here,” a note on Bush’s website says. “Some are funny; some are serious; some I wrote in frustration.” Some also contain the email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of Florida residents. The emails are available in Outlook format, and can be searched on the web at Bush’s website.

I’m guessing this was not the brainchild of Mr. Bush’s new technology officer who took the time to purge his electronic filing cabinet of misogynistic and homophobic musings.

The campaign later figured out the oops and took the raw e-mails down, but oh well, dems da berries in the digital age.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Drug Test

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the newest rising star in the GOP now that Mitt Romney has flounced out consideration.  Mr. Walker appealed to the base by being a union-buster in his first term, and now that he’s set his sights on the White House by running as a Washington outsider — wow, there’s an original campaign idea — he’s about to try to prove his toughness on the takers and the lazy folk (you know who they are) by requiring drug tests for people who apply for welfare.

Walker claimed his motivation for the controversial move was feedback he’d received from Wisconsin companies. “As I traveled my state, I hear employers, small business owners say, overwhelming: ‘We have jobs. We just need workers. And we need two things: people who know how to show up every day for work, five days a week, and gimme someone who can pass a drug test,’” he said.

Maybe Mr. Walker should pick up the phone and call his good pal Rick Scott down here in Florida and see how drug testing welfare applicants worked.

From July through October 2011 — the four months when testing took place in Florida before a federal injunction — 2.6 percent of the state’s applicants for cash assistance, or 108 of 4,086, failed the drug test, according to figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. Another 40 applicants did not go through with the testing.

Not only that, it cost the state of Florida a bit of money.

Because the Florida law required that applicants who passed the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This was more than would have been paid in benefits to the people who failed the test.

Oh, and one other little detail: a federal court ruled that the Florida law violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure, basically saying that assuming an entire class of people — welfare applicants — were drug users was unconstitutional.

So on three of the big-ticket items that the GOP says they stand for — smaller government, more freedom, and not wasting money on useless programs — they flunked all three, and not just in Florida; Michigan’s attempt at it flamed out in 2003.  And yet Mr. Walker wants to try it in Wisconsin.

Maybe he’s the one who should be peeing in a cup.

Short Takes

Another big snow hits the Northeast.

ISIS claims to have killed another hostage.

U.S. looks at arming Ukraine forces.

Obama budget aims to reduce income inequality.

Mayor Collins of Toledo suffers heart attack; condition critical.

New England won the Super Bowl.

GOP candidates scramble after Romney’s donors.

Florida prisons chief knocks Gov. Scott over law enforcement scandal.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Reading

Hell of a Governor — Michael Kruse of Politico interviews Michael Schiavo, the widower of Terri Schiavo, and Jeb Bush’s role in his wife’s case.

CLEARWATER, Fla.—Sitting recently on his brick back patio here, Michael Schiavo called Jeb Bush a vindictive, untrustworthy coward.

For years, the self-described “average Joe” felt harassed, targeted and tormented by the most important person in the state.

“It was a living hell,” he said, “and I blame him.”

Michael Schiavo was the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman from the Tampa Bay area who ended up at the center of one of the most contentious, drawn-out conflicts in the history of America’s culture wars. The fight over her death lasted almost a decade. It started as a private legal back-and-forth between her husband and her parents. Before it ended, it moved from circuit courts to district courts to state courts to federal courts, to the U.S. Supreme Court, from the state legislature in Tallahassee to Congress in Washington. The president got involved. So did the pope.

But it never would have become what it became if not for the dogged intervention of the governor of Florida at the time, the second son of the 41st president, the younger brother of the 43rd, the man who sits near the top of the extended early list of likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates. On sustained, concentrated display, seen in thousands of pages of court records and hundreds of emails he sent, was Jeb the converted Catholic, Jeb the pro-life conservative, Jeb the hands-on workaholic, Jeb the all-hours emailer—confident, competitive, powerful, obstinate Jeb. Longtime watchers of John Ellis Bush say what he did throughout the Terri Schiavo case demonstrates how he would operate in the Oval Office. They say it’s the Jebbest thing Jeb’s ever done.

The case showed he “will pursue whatever he thinks is right, virtually forever,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida. “It’s a theme of Jeb’s governorship: He really pushed executive power to the limits.”

“If you want to understand Jeb Bush, he’s guided by principle over convenience,” said Dennis Baxley, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives during Bush’s governorship and still. “He may be wrong about something, but he knows what he believes.”

And what he believed in this case, and what he did, said Miami’s Dan Gelber, a Democratic member of the state House during Bush’s governorship, “probably was more defining than I suspect Jeb would like.”

For Michael Schiavo, though, the importance of the episode—Bush’s involvement from 2003 to 2005, and what it might mean now for his almost certain candidacy—is even more viscerally obvious.

“He should be ashamed,” he said. “And I think people really need to know what type of person he is. To bring as much pain as he did, to me and my family, that should be an issue.”

Bonus Reading: Jeb Bush’s School Years — Ah, the good old days of smoking pot in the woods and bullying the underclassmen at a New England prep school.  (Been there, done that, wrote the novel.)

Holy Dog Whistles — Dianna Anderson in Salon on evangelicals history of racism and its current harbinger, Mike Huckabee.

In an interview promoting his recent book about American Christian political identity, Mike Huckabee commented that he doesn’t understand how Barack and Michelle Obama let their daughters listen to Beyoncé. He told ABC that he doesn’t think Beyoncé is wholesome, referring to Biblical ideas about holiness, saying, “what you put into your brain is also important, as well as what you put into your body.” Huckabee, a white man, seems to take particular focus on Beyoncé, stating in his book that it seems her husband, Jay Z, has crossed the line from husband to pimp in “sexually exploiting her body.”

I want you to hold that moment in your head for a minute – a white man calling a black man a “pimp” and criticizing a black female singer for being too sexual in her music. Let’s talk about history.

[…]

“Evangelical,” as an identity, is separate from the historical nature of the Southern Baptist Convention, though their theologies and histories are tied together and, in many ways, are nearly inextricable from each other. But evangelical, as a political and social identity, has a much shorter history than the Southern Baptists. The sanitized story that you’ll hear from most evangelicals is that, following the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, evangelicals were moved away from their previous apolitical identity toward protecting the unborn. Much of the evangelical identity, even today, is centered on pro-life issues and pushing for political protection of fetuses. And this is an identity Huckabee embraces as a former pastor and current evangelical thought leader.

But Evangelicalism actually dates back to well before Roe v. Wade – indeed, about a decade before, right around the time Martin Luther King, Jr., was becoming a national figure. The historical white religious fear of the black man is a well-documented phenomenon. After all, Emmett Till was murdered for the supposed crime of whistling at a white woman. Social hygienists in the early 1920s created sexual health education not out of a public health concern, but because upper-class white women were beginning to mirror the supposed sexual habits of lower-class people of color. The pearl-clutching fear over miscegenation was still in the minds of evangelicals as they began to stand up as a political identity in the early 1960s.

The landmark decision of Loving v. Virginia – the interracial marriage court case of 1967 – spurred yet more white fear over the loss of control over white women in particular. This fear coincided with the rise of second-wave feminism – which would eventually lead to Roe v. Wade. All this tumult threw the evangelicals into a political fervor – the way of life they had established for themselves in the two short decades since the end of World War II was coming to an end. Life in the U.S. was, in a word, unstable. This change didn’t sit well with evangelical leaders.

[…]

And it is in this context that Huckabee can call a multimillionaire black musician a prostitute and a sexual object without his base of white evangelicals batting an eye. It is this history – a history of Evangelicalism founded in racial tensions and racist fear over the sexuality of black people – that colors Huckabee’s comments to make them seem entirely reasonable to an audience of white evangelicals primed to gobble them up. Huckabee’s comments, indeed, are carefully calculated dogwhistles to his base, imbued with the racist history of the political evangelical identity.

Man Around the House — Andy Borowitz on Mitt’s plans.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told supporters on Friday that he was “incredibly relieved” to be able to keep the approximately five to ten residences he owns across the country.

“Having to talk about how much I care about ordinary Americans and so forth—I was game for that,” he said. “But having to sell all of those houses? That was going to be brutal.”

The 2012 Republican nominee said that he was especially glad he did not have to part with the car elevator in his eleven-thousand-square-foot mansion in La Jolla. “Come on, that thing is neat,” he said.

Doonesbury — To live and die by hashtag.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sausage and Salad

Jon Stewart has fun with the Iowa Ihateyou summit.

Quoth the Prophet of the Tundra:

When will they let us control our own care? When will they do to stop causing our pain, and start feeling it again? Well, in other words, um… is Hillary a new Democrat or an old one? Now, the press asks, the press asks “can anyone stop Hillary?” Again, this is to forego a conclusion, right, it’s to scare us off, to convince that – a pantsuit can crush patriots!?

I defy anyone to diagram that paragraph.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Going Out With A Prayer

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has about as much of a chance of being the Republican nominee in 2016 as I do of being Mr. Universe, but you can’t knock a guy for trying.  This last weekend in an attempt to upstage the clown show hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Mr. Jindal had his own little gathering of Jesus-shouters and homophobes to show the base that while he may be brown-skinned, he’s really one of them.

ABC host George Stephanopoulos asked Jindal on Sunday how he explained to non-believers his decision to be the keynote speaker at an event hosted by the American Family Association, which has been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its views on LGBT people.

Jindal had concluded his speech at “The Response: A Call To Prayer For a Nation In Crisis” event, by announcing that “our god wins.”

[…]

The Louisiana Republican pointed out that “a majority of our people are Christians, but we don’t discriminate against anybody. And that’s one of the great things about America.”

But when it camne [sic] to discriminating against LGBT people, Jindal said that he would back a constitutional amendment to allow states to ban same-sex marriage if the Supreme Court legalized it.

So he’s against discrimination but wants to enshrine it in the Constitution.  Aw, isn’t that cute?

Like I said, Mr. Jindal, along with Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee, have no chance whatsoever of being the nominee of their party, but it’s fun to see them trot out their little selling points before they exit.  Kind of like a pity act on American Idol.

Oh, and speaking of Marco Rubio, he has stated that his staff should proceed as if he’s going to run for president in 2016 and that he can’t run for re-election to the Senate from Florida if he does.  That means another open race in Florida for Charlie Crist to try for again.  Oh joy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Lawgiver

Former Gov. Huckabee goes for Moses:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said during an appearance Thursday on a Christian television show that he’s thinking about running for President to help the nation know where laws come from: God.

“We cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God,” he said on the show “Life Today.”

Yeah, okay.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Can’t Help Themselves

A week after some “expert” on Fox News claimed that Muslims have taken over Birmingham, England, and was so laughed out of the room that even Fox News had to apologize for his breathtaking racism and stupidity, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) goes over to England and basically says the same thing.

Mr. Jindal, you recall, is the man who once told his fellow Republicans that they can no longer be “the stupid party” and is considering a run for the presidency in 2016.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mittopia

Via the Boston Globe:

If Romney were president, one longtime adviser said, “There wouldn’t be an ISIS at all, and Putin would know his place in life. Domestically, things would be in better shape.”

And unicorns would be dancing under the rainbows in the lollipop meadows.

At least he didn’t promise a drop in unemployment, gas under $2.50 a gallon, and a booming economy because, um, we already have those.  Thanks anyway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

He’s Serious This Time

I guess Mitt Romney really is going for it.

…Romney has said he is intent on running to the right of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who also is working aggressively to court donors and other party establishment figures for a 2016 bid. Romney has signaled to conservatives that, should he enter the race, he shares their views on immigration and on taxes — and that he will not run from party orthodoxy.

In previous iterations, he’s been the progressive pro-choice live-and-let-live Republican governor of Massachusetts, the smart businessman alternative to John McCain, and the whirling dervish for tall trees and the 47% in 2012.  Now he’s going for the red meat right-wing nutsery because that’s the way the wind blows.  He’ll be Ted Cruz with the car elevator this time around.

Short Takes

Search continues for last of the the suspects in Charlie Hebdo massacre.

The U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts were hacked.

Attacks against ISIS continue.

Cuba released 53 political prisoners as promised as part of the thaw in U.S. relations.

South Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage is struck down, but the order is immediately stayed.

Paul Ryan isn’t running for president.